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254 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 

A FOOTNOTE TO SECESSION HISTORY 

By a. Macwhirter. 


I 

Future students of Scottish denominational history may find themselves 
perplexed by entries in Scottish directories and almanacs published after 
the year 1842 of a few congregations mainly in Edinburgh, listed as 
“ Original Secession Church — not in connection with the Synod.” The 
purpose of this paper is to account for the existence of these, and to 
trace their history which brings to light many remarkable features in the 
realm of presbyterial government in the absence of a presbytery, division, 
and loyalty to testimony and principles to a degree unthought of amongst 
present day Churchmen. 

In his excellent book Annals and Statistics of the Original Secession 
Church (1886) Rev. D. Scott very briefly mentions the movement which 
forms the subject of this paper. He limits himself, however, to its in- 
ception, while it is now proposed to deal more with its subsequent 
history. Full use has been made of Mr. Scott’s list of authorities on the 
subject ; which he contented himself with recording, making no effort 
to reproduce their contents. Rev. D. Scott was connected in his early 
days with Lauriston Street O.S. Church, Edinburgh, which may account 
for a number of references in his book to that congregation and its 
ministers. I have traced a number of other publications of dates prior 
to the Annals ; and several which appeared later. As most of those 
connected with the different sections into which the last Anti-Burghers 
split have now passed away, the writer felt that the time had come to 
collect from the last survivors as much information as possible, and to 
commit the result to paper. Moreover, many of the publications are 
now very rare, and as time goes on will become more so. Research has 
unearthed copies of nearly all the printed papers ; unfortunately, in 
practically no case was access to written records secured. 


II 

To members of this Society familiar with the family tree of Secession 


255 


256 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


History, no explanation of the term “Anti-Burger” should be necessary. 
For the sake of completeness, however, I will briefly recall the origin of 
the tenu, and of the groups known respectively as Burgher and Anti- 
Burgher. 

It will be recalled that the Secession from the Church of Scotland 
took place in the year 1733, and that the Secession Synod (or Associate 
Synod as it was officially known) had, at its meeting in 1745 a question 
raised which was, two years later, to arrest much of its promise by dividing 
the membership, after wordy duel and acrimonious dispute. 

The question agitating the Synod arose out of the Burgess Oath 
exacted in the towns of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, where applicants 
for enrolment as Burgesses were required inter alia to declare : — 

Here I protest before God and your Lordships, that I profess and 
allow with my heart the true religion presently professed 
within this realm and authorised by the laws thereof. I shall 
abide thereat, and defend the same to my life’s end, renouncing 
the Roman religion called Papistry. 

The dispute in the Secession Synod hinged round the interpretation of 
“The True Religion presently professed within this Realm.” Did the 
clause carry with it the approval of the existing Establishment with all its 
doctrinal errors and violations of Constitution ; or did it simply bind the 
person taking the oath to an approval of the true religion without com- 
mitting him to an approval of the particular manner in which it was 
professed in Scotland ? 

The question directly concerned but a few Seceders in the cities 
mentioned, and none at all outside these towns. The Party having no 
profound objection to the oath were popularly called Burghers ; the 
objectors were known as Anti-Burghers. The question finally split the 
Associate Synod into two different bodies in April, 1747, both claiming the 
name, “Associate Synod” ; to the public, however, they remained 
“ Burghers ” and “Anti-Burghers.” 


Ill 

It is not necessary for the purposes of this paper to give any detailed 
account of the subsequent divisions which took place in both Synods 
mainly on the question of the duties of the civil magistrate in matters of 
religion. But in 1820, when the two larger bodies of the “New Lights ” 
among the Burghers and Anti-Burghers had united in the United Secession 
Church, three smaller groups remained, two of them Anti-Burgher 
and one Burgher. In 1827 the two Anti-Burgher groups, i.e., the Synod of 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


257 


Protestors and The Constitutional Associate Presbytery united to form 
the Associate Synod of Original Seceders. Twelve years later in 1839 the 
Burgher group decided by a majority to attach their congregations 
to the Church of Scotland Presbyteries within whose bounds they were 
situated, but a small minority of ministers and congregations continued 
the existence of the body. From 1839 till 1842 this remnant Synod was 
engaged in negotiating a Union with the Associate Synod of Original 
Seceders. Such a course had been foreshadowed by conferences previously 
engaged in by these Synods or their predecessors first, for several years 
prior to 1820, and secondly in 1832, but the old question of the Burgess 
Oath proved a stumbling block in the way of the projected union on each 
occasion, as a strong conservative party on the Anti-Burgher side insisted 
that the Burghers should acknowledge plainly the sinfulness of Seceders 
swearing the Burgess Oath, a concession which the Burgher side declined 
to make. The Burgess Oath had been a dead letter for years and had been 
completely abolished as far back as 1819. (Act of 3rd and 4th William 
IV, cap. 76/36.) 

In September 1841, a basis of union was prepared and was published 
early the following year. This included resolutions concerning the Burgess 
Oath, Communion, Practical Religion and Covenanting. It was agreed 
further by the Synod of Original Seceders that if the Negotiation with the 
Original Burghers should be successful and a union effected, the question 
in the Formula regarding the Burgess Oath should be dropped. 

On 12th January, 1842, when the Original Secession Synod finally 
agreed to unite with the remnant Burgher Synod on this published basis. 
Rev. James Wright, of Infirmary Street Church, Edinburgh, and Rev. 
Andrew Lambie, Pitcairngreen, entered their dissent ; and on 17th May 
following they left the Synod, declined its authority, and thereafter 
constituted themselves along with William Snodgrass, Ruling Elder from 
Mr. Wright’s congregation, “ The Associate Presbytery of Original 
Seceders.”* Both ministers published addresses to their congregations 
on the matter.2 Mr. Wright’s runs to seventeen very closely printed pages, 
and commences with a full history of the Burgess Oath controversy in 
which he says : ‘ ‘ The case stands thus : On the one hand the Testimony 
of Original Seceders rests on the decision, which pointedly condemns the 
swearing of this oath, as both sinful and at variance with our covenants ; 
on the other hand the Burghers . . . solemnly declare, ‘ They will rather 

1 Annals and Statistics of the Original Secession Church (Scott), i886. 

» “Address to the Associate Congregation, Infirmary Street, on The Projected 
Union,” by Rev. James Wright, Edinburgh, 1842. 

“Address to the Associate Congregation of Pitcairngreen,” by Rev. Andrew 
Lambie, Perth, 1842. 


258 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


perish as a body ’ than subscribe to such a condemnation. The plain 
question then is, can the Testimony of the Original Seceders be the same 
in the united body, and with the articles inserted in it, as it is now — has 
it not, as interpreted by these articles, undergone an essential and material 
change ? And how can these two parties unite by solemnly swearing 
the Covenants on such terms ? There have seldom, if indeed ever, in the 
history of religious Unions been such ‘ Italian and Roman Stratagems ’ 
... It has been urged by those who had paid little or no attention to 
this controversy that the abolition of the Burgess Oath by the legislature 
sets at rest the whole question — no mistake can be greater than this.” 
The Pamphlet by Rev. Andrew Lambie of Pitcairngreen is less ambitious 
and in his the appeal is more to Scriptural authority. 

The Declinature read and given in by Messrs. Lambie and Wright to 
the Associate Synod of Original Seceders was a document of some length 
and is printed in full in Mr. Scott’s Annals and Statistics and, stated very 
briefly, it claimed that the Associate S5mod of Original Seceders, by agree- 
ing to the articles as exhibiting their plan of union with the Synod of 
Original Burghers had materially dropt the whole Secession Testimony. 

Mr. Wright’s decision to withdraw from the Associate Synod of Original 
Seceders caused a breach in his congregation which occurred on 4th 
April, 1842, a minority including two elders deciding to adhere to their 
former S5mod ; this section, after meeting in the School of Arts, Adam 
Square, and in the Merchants’ Hall, Hunter Square, built a church in 
Adam Square, and called Rev. Archd. Brown to be their minister. The 
majority, however, remained with Mr. Wright, and no breach seems to 
have occurred in Mr. Lambie’s congregation at Pitcairngreen. 

A third congregation was that of Dundee, an off-shoot of the Constitu- 
tional Church in that town. Apparently the Associate Presbytery’s 
s5nnpathisers there were congregated from the breach, as the Presbytery 
met at Dundee as early as 22nd December, 1842, for an ‘‘Act of Public 
Fast ” was published there on that date. 

It is possible that had other ministers supported Messrs. Lambie and 
Wright (‘‘The Two Witnesses” as they were popularly called) further 
congregations might have been formed, as a paragraph in Faiths of the 
World, a voluminous dictionary of religions and sects by Rev. James 
Gardner (A. FuUarton & Co.), published about 1855, stated, ‘‘ One con- 
gregation of Original Seceders in Edinburgh, under the ministry of Rev. 
James Wright, with not a few adherents in various parts of the country, 
disclaims all connection with those who adhere to the Testimony of 1842 
claiming in the principles they avow to represent the First Seceders.” 

Very extensive enquiry on my part has failed to disclose the where- 
abouts (if still existing) of the written records of this Presbytery — with 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


259 


one notable exception to be later referred to and which throws light on 
the Court’s ultimate fate. 

Various printed “Acts” and “Reasons for Fasts” were published by 
the Presbytery during the brief course of its existence. One of these in 
my possession, “Address by the Associate Presbytery of Original Seceders 
to the people under their inspection,” dated from Dundee, November ii, 
1844, is of ten pages and is signed by Mr. Wright as Presbytery Clerk. 
Coming shortly after the Disruption, a portion of this is taken up with 
criticism of the Free Church Assembly decision of that year, “That they 
had come to the conclusion, that it was not expedient for the Church to 
issue a Testimony at all.” It also states, “ With regard to the Synod 
with which we were lately connected, it is to be considered that that 
Synod cannot be viewed as any longer existing.” Other printed causes of 
fasting dated December 1S47 and December 1848 appeared. 

In dealing with the congregations under the inspection of the Presby- 
tery, I shall place them in this order — Dundee, Pitcairngreen, Edinburgh 
(Lauriston Street). 


IV 

DUNDEE 

The little Dundee congregation met in Peter Street Hall and had one 
elder in the person of Mr. John Jack, Harbourmaster. * Mr. Scott tells us 
they first were supplied by Mr. Thomas Callander, a Probationer, who 
joined the Secession from another denomination in 1833, became Town 
Missionary at Ayr, and adhered to Messrs. Wright and Lambie at the 
breach nine years later. His stay here was apparently short, and he 
afterwards joined the Baptist denomination. 

The little company was greatly distressed for lack of money ; as on 
8th February, 1847, ^ meeting of the Session of Lauriston Street Church, 

Edinburgh, on the laying before the meeting by the Moderator of a com- 
munication from “ our brethren at Dundee,” it was agreed that a public 
collection be made on their behalf. A similar request was mentioned at a 
meeting of the Lauriston Street Session on 20th September following, and 
was “ meantime deferred,” although the following month a collection for 
their assistance was taken up at Pitcairngreen. In 1848 the congregation 
was under the charge of the Rev. David Berry, but it is not clear whether 
he was ordained over this congregation or at large, as witness an extract 
from “ The Scottish Presbyterian ” of date June 1850 when in reference 

1 Minutes, Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh. 


260 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


to Mr. Berry it is stated, ‘ ‘ He was ordained to the holy ministry, and 
laboured in Dundee, although not as the pastor of the people to whom he 
ministered there.” Mr. Berry received his theological instruction from 
Mr. Wright, and I am afraid the late Dr. Couper erred in associating him 
with the O.S. Synod. Apparently the financial position did not improve 
with the introduction of Mr. Berry to the pulpit, for on 6th May, 1849, 
we again learn that at a meeting of the Session of Lauriston Street Church 
the Moderator stated that at the recent meeting of Presbytery, it was 
agreed that aid be given at present to our brethren at Dundee, in the way 
of a collection on Sabbath next. 

Meanwhile, at Dundee, things had taken a new turn for on i8th July, 
1849, we learn from a minute of the Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh 
that ‘ ' Rev. David Berry, minister of the congregation of Original Seceders 
in Dundee, and Mr. John Jack, ruling elder, appeared before the Presby- 
tery as representatives appointed by the congregation and laid on the 
table an Application and Petition from the minister and congregation 
expressing approbation of the principles of the Reformed Presbyterian 
Church — requesting admission into her communion — and stating that they 
had already intimated their resignation of connection with the Associate 
Presbytery of Original Seceders.” The Presbytery felt gratified by the 
tenor of the application and a committee was appointed to prepare the 
case for the consideration of a future meeting of Presbytery. Four days 
later at a meeting of Lauriston Street Session it was minuted that “ as 
the Moderator — Rev. James Wright — purposed going at this time to 
assist at the Sacramental occasion at Pitcairngreen, a conversation took 
place, as to his calling upon the members of the Dundee Congregation 
previously ... to converse with them, it being reported that they proposed 
casting off their public profession in adhering to the Testimony of another 
church.” This visit on 31st July, 1849, to the representatives of the people 
at Dundee took the form of a meeting of Presbytery, at which Rev. 
David Berry and Mr. Jack were present, and was an historic one in the 
Court’s history, as out of it arose the incident which led to the separation 
of Mr. Lambie from Mr. Wright, a full account of which will be given 
when we deal with the congregation of Pitcairngreen. Through the 
diligence of Mr. John MacLeod, Session Clerk at Lauriston Street Church, 
I have a copy of the Minute of Presbytery of this important occasion, 
which has been extracted from the Minutes of Session of date 20th August, 
1849 ; where it was engrossed to lie in retentis. 

“ Draft of Minutes taken at Dundee. 

” 31st July, 1849. The Associate Presbytery of Original 
Seceders met and was constituted by Mr. James Wright, Modera- 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


261 


tor. Mr. Berry being present and required to make any statement 
he wished said, in explaining the resignation, that it was want of 
money that led him and the people to enquire into Cameronianism, 
and besides the ill usage of brethren in not giving them pecuniary 
aid, and that upon examining 'Cameronianism' he was convinced 
that he was not leaving the cause he had hitherto held in joining 
the Cameronians, quoting proof from page 55 of the Testimony, 
First Edition, where mention is made of others professing the same 
adherence to the Standards of the Church of Scotland, and the same 
regard to the Reformation as themselves, and that it is to be desired 
that a dispassionate examination of the really subsisting grounds 
of difference should lead to their co-operating in the advancement 
of the common cause. The weakness and unfairness of this being 
pointed out on his being asked to explain the above statement in 
accordance with the nth Question of the Formula, which bound 
him as a Seceder to oppose Cameronianism, he failed to give 
anything like satisfaction. 

" On Mr. Jack asking leave to give his mind, which was 
readily granted, he proceeded freely to admit that it was the want 
of money, and ill usage by some Deacons in Edinburgh Congrega- 
tion in not granting immediate pecuniary supply to a petition to 
that effect, and that had that petition been answered at the time 
by money, instead of the written promise sent to them, ‘That when 
some pressing Congregational arrangements were concluded they 
would convey them from £10 to £15' — the present step would not 
have been taken. 

“ The Presbytery were sorry to hear Mr. Berry and Mr. Jack 
contradict themselves, in at one time saying, both Associations 
held the same cause, and at another arguing on behalf of views 
held in Nairn’s Reasons of Dissent, and besides this they contra- 
dicted each other. John Jack said they owned the present Govern- 
ment (civil) in all lawful commands, and when it was stated that 
that is Secederism, he replied that he would carry these Seceder 
views into the Cameronian body, which statement of owning the 
present Civil Government being opposed by Mr. Berry, he was 
asked to explain what Cameronianism was, to which he replied, 
he did not come here to be examined.” 

The Dundee congregation were not to be diverted from their change 
of front by this examination, and on 26th September, 1849, they were 
visited by the Committee of the Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh who 
entered into a lengthy conversation with Mr. Berry and eight of his 
congregation — an indication of their fewness — when the Committee were 


262 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


much satisfied with the answers given and the views expressed by these 
individuals. The Presbytery accordingly agreed on 3rd October following 
to accept the congregation into the Reformed Presbyterian Church. * 

As there was already in existence a small Reformed Presbyterian 
Church in Dundee, which, however, was in a state of severe financial 
embarrassment, it was agreed that they cease to meet as a congregation 
and individually become members of Mr. Berry’s congregation. At the 
same meeting the Clerk reported that he had written Rev. Mr. Lambie of 
Pitcairngreen, Clerk to the Associate Presbytery, requesting a statement 
of Mr. Berry’s licence, ordination, and ministerial standing ; and that no 
answer had been received ; an indication of Mr. Lambie’s disownment 
of the Presbytery, as will be fully recounted in the next chapter. Mr. 
Berry, however, laid on the table printed Causes of Fasting, dated 1847 
and 1848 in which his name appeared as Clerk of Presbytery, and attesta- 
tions of his licence and ordination by elders and others who had been 
present when these transactions took place. 

On 9th May, 1850, the Reformed Presbyterian Synod, after hearing 
the report of a Committee appointed to converse with Mr. Berry, recom- 
mended that Mr. Berry be received as an ordained minister, and that he 
be placed on the list of probationers. Two days later the Presbytery of 
Edinburgh received him into the Church in terms of the above recom- 
mendations.2 

The Associate (Anti-Burgher) Congregation of Dundee, after its union 
with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, passed into the Free Church in 
1876, United Free Church in igoo, and Church of Scotland in 1929. It is 
now known as Martyrs’ Church of Scotland. 

Mr. Berry later held charges in the Reformed Presbyterian Synod at 
Wick, and in the Free Church of Scotland at Graham Street, Airdrie. 
He died in London on 2nd April, 1887.^ His son, David Anderson Berry, 
who greatly distinguished himself in the medical world, instituted a 
“ David Berry Trust” in memory of his father, which is administered 
by the Royal Historical Society, London, and substantial prizes are at 
present being offered by them for a paper on Scottish History. 

V 

Pitcairngreen. 

The congregation to which Rev. Andrew Lambie ministered originated 

1 Minutes, Reformed Presbytery of Edinburgh. 

2 Minutes, Reformed Presb3rtery of Edinburgh. 

* The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland (W. J. Couper), 1925. 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


263 


on 27th June, 1797, when 62 members of the North Church, Perth (Anti- 
Burgher) petitioned to be disjoined for the formation of a new congrega- 
tion. The reason behind this demand was the erection of public works 
in the locality, which is within the parish of Redgorton and 4J miles 
from Perth. It remains to-day a peaceful and picturesque village, and, at 
the time of the erection of the Anti-Burgher Church in 1798, a Burgher 
Church was also being completed within a few hundred yards. The 
Anti-Burgher Church was erected to seat 300, and was situated beside 
the manse, which still stands, being the only two-storeyed house on the side 
of the village facing the road to Perth. The earlier ministers were : 
(i) John Brown, Ordained 25th June, 1800 ; the Presbytery Minute of 
whose ordination is the first minute in the “Session Book belonging to the 
Associate Anti-Burgher congregation, Pitcairngreen.” Deposed 8th 
September, 1802 ; (2) William Beath, Ordained ist November, 1803. 
Together with his congregation he joined the Synod of Protestors in 1820. 
Died in Edinburgh, 22nd May, 1827, after a stroke the previous day, 
which first manifested itself while he was preaching in Professor Paxton’s 
Church, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh — a circumstance interesting on 
account of the later connection between Pitcairngreen and Infirmary 
Street congregations. 

Mr. Lambie, who came from Auchinleck, was ordained as Mr. Death’s 
successor on 29th April, 1829. In 1838, Dr. Small tells us, the communi- 
cants were above 120, and the ordinary income between £yo and £80 a 
year. Following the formation of the Associate Presbytery by Messrs. 
Wright, Snodgrass and Lambie in 1842, Mr. Lambie returned to Pitcairn- 
green, and at a meeting of his Session, held on 25th June, they agreed 
“ to adhere to the testimony and the Formula as they stand without the 
alteration made by the Synod of the Original Seceders in the late union 
with the Burgher Synod.’’* Later that year it was agreed that Andrew 
Young, a former elder of the Perth Original Secession Church, but “now 
with us” should become a member of Session. In 1844, Janet Miller 
applied for admission, but her case was delayed until she had read all the 
testimony. Janet apparently did so, for the following year she was duly 
admitted. On 3rd March, 1846, a member, “who had left at the union 
of 1842,” applied for re-admission. It was decided she be admitted, but, 
“we should be on the watch lest it be understood we would admit those 
who were as well pleased with the testimony in its altered state as in its 
entire state.” 

On 2nd June, 1846, a conversation took place regarding the duty of 
covenanting : this led to the solemn renewal of the Covenants of our 

1 " Session Book Belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher Congregation. 
Pitcairngreen.” 


264 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


Ancestors which was proceeded with in the usual form at Pitcairngreen 
on 23rd July, 1846. Those present included Revs. Lambie and Wright ; 
Mr. David Berry, Preacher ; John Jack, Elder, Dundee ; and Thomas 
Brown, Elder, Edinburgh. The bond was also subscribed by eight men 
and twenty women ; showing the decline which had been in progress in 
the congregation since their withdrawal from the Synod. A gazeteer 
issued about 1850 gives the average attendance as twenty-five. 

On 20th January, 1850, Mr. Lambie publicly intimated his withdraw- 
ment from intercourse and correspondence with Rev. Mr. Wright of 
Edinburgh.! As this marked the end of the last Presbytery of Anti- 
Burghers, properly constituted, the facts of the separation may be given 
at some length from Mr. Lambie’s pamphlet, “Address to the Associate 
Congregation of Original Seceders at Pitcairngreen showing the reason of 
withdrawment from Communion with the Rev. James Wright, Edinburgh” 
(Perth : Charles Paton, 1851). 

From this publication it appears that prior to the meeting of Presby- 
tery at Dundee, when Rev. David Berry and the Dundee elder were inter- 
viewed regarding their withdrawal, the Dundee congregation had intimated 
to the Clerk that “Owing to the state of their funds, the extinction of all 
hope of being able to go on in their present position, they resign connection 
with the Presbytery.” Mr. Berry, at the same time, wrote that he was 
leaving the Presbytery for “Reasons similar, as well as being desirous of 
continuing in the exercise of the ministerial office with which he had been 
invested.” At the meeting of Presbytery in question held at Dundee, 
Mr. Berry complained that a representation had gone abroad that he 
and the people at Dundee had left owing to the state of their funds which 
he denied, but admitted that it was the state of the funds or want of 
money which led him to inquire into the principles of the body to which 
he looked, and he represented himself as being influenced in part to take 
the step from the views that resulted from this inquiry. Mr. Wright, 
apparently, resisted his first assertion insisting that it was want of funds, 
and regard to certain occurrences, rather than considerations of principle, 
that might be judged to have influenced him. 

Mr. Lambie, as Clerk, minuted and read Mr. Berry’s statement. But 
in a minute drawn up in preference to the Clerk’s draft, Mr. Berry’s denial 
of want of money being the proper reason was omitted, and to this Mr. 
Lambie submitted. 

At the next meeting of Presbytery held in October there was put into 
the minutes a judicial declaration concerning Mr. Berry that he had 
“acknowledged that he took the step under the influence of pecuniary 

1 “ Session Book Belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher Congregation. 
Pitcairngreen.” 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


265 


considerations;” to this Mr. Lambie signified uncertainty as to whether 
it was correctly expressed, but did not press his difficulty. He next Sab- 
bath intimated, ‘‘according to a regulation of the Reformed Church of 
Scotland,” the Deed of Presbytery, which declared Mr. Berry not in 
visible fellowship with the Church of Christ, and “stated something like 
what was in the deed represented as an aggravation of the offence; this 
was because he considered there was something relating to money in the 
reasons, offensive and aggravating, as was generally judged among us.” 
Soon after the meeting of Presbytery Mr. Berry received notice of the 
deed, and straightway instructed Mr. Lambie, as Clerk of the Presbytery, 
to inform those concerned he had resolved to see what redress could be 
had by law if this clause were not erased from the minutes, and requesting 
an answer within three weeks. Mr. Lambie, on re-examining the minute, 
felt it to be unfairly expressed, and wrote to Mr. Wright suggesting an 
alteration. On the same day, however, he received from Mr. Wright an 
open letter, written with the concurrence of elders, addressed to Mr. 
Berry, assuring him that “we must appear in our defence at any civil 
bar whether he may be pleased to drag us,” which Mr. Lambie was desired 
to sign as clerk ; this, however, he could “ by no means do.” 

A meeting of Presbytery was called for Edinburgh the following week 
on account of Mr. Lambie’s dissatisfaction, when he proposed that some- 
thing be substituted for the offending words of the clause. 

Three days of intense disagreement ensued between the two ministerial 
members of the Court, while the only elder present apparently did his 
best to effect a compromise agreeable to both. Motion and counter- 
motion were made to amend the clause of the Deed complained of, or to 
explain it in the manner of altering the statement that Mr. Berry had 
retired from the Presbytery for pecuniary reasons. As illustrative of the 
warmth of the discussions it is recorded that on the first two days no prayer 
was offered at the close of the sederunts. Finally, an explanatory motion 
was adopted in relation to Mr. Berry’s explanation, as was a motion 
agreeing that all record of the dispute be taken from the minutes, and it 
was agreed to send a copy of the former motion to Mr. Berry. 

On afterwards reflecting, Mr. Lambie felt that the Presbytery was 
involved in something of a scandal “as deliberately owning, when brought 
under review, what was really a misrepresentation.” To quote Mr. 
Lambie’s pamphlet : “ An important question then with the writer was, 
how could he clear himself ecclesiastically ? Had he been alone implicated 
he could have been cleared by personally condemning the procedure ; 
but the brother by whom chiefly he had been thus implicated being in 
the same reproach, he would have been implicated stUl as long as the 
brother was not cleared. To aim at personally persuading Mr. Wright 


266 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


still seemed preposterous. . . . Nothing appeared left, in duty to any 
party, but to withdraw.” 

In a number of minor grievances Mr. Lambie held towards Mr. Wright 
which are given vent to in his pamphlet, it is interesting to learn that in 
the spring of 1849 the two ministers had quarrelled over the question 
of lifting the bread before setting it apart from a common to a holy use 
in the Lord’s Supper, which quarrel had led to Mr. Wright’s refusing to 
assist at the Pitcairngreen Sacrament, calling the matter in dispute a 
“ question about meats.” This was, of course, the same point as resulted 
in the forming of the ” Lifter ” Presbytery composed of Seceders from 
the Anti-Burghers 67 years earlier. 

Mr. Wright made a number of efforts to persuade Mr. Lambie to return 
to the Presbytery. He offered, if Mr. Lambie’s conscience was aggrieved 
about it, to strike the clause out for ever. Later, he, as Moderator of 
Presbytery, called a meeting for Pitcairngreen, but Mr. Lambie wrote in 
reply that he could not acknowledge his right to do so. Mr. Wright, 
however, came to Pitcairngreen in March 1850 to endeavour to heal the 
breach, when he found that two members of Mr. Lambie’s Session made 
common cause with him on the matter of the dispute. Some trouble had 
been experienced in the latter Court during the early part of that month, 
when Mr. Lambie, as admitted in his pamphlet, on one occasion refused 
to constitute the Session when requested, and on another occasion at a 
meeting of the Court refused to put a series of questions bearing on the 
heahng of his dispute with Mr. Wright. 

This difference between Mr. Lambie and his Session culminated at a 
Sacramental Fast Day, 7th March, 1850, when the minister having consti- 
tuted the session with prayer for the distribution of tokens, an elder instead 
of coming forward to take his place agreeable to the end of the meeting 
read a ‘‘Protest against the Lord’s Supper being dispensed because aU 
the members of the Presbytery had acknowledged and did still acknowledge 
that they were at one in the public profession, they therefore should not 
this day be divided.” The paper was signed by two elders and a large 
proportion of the congregation. 

Thereafter Mr. Wright and the disaffected elders made one further 
effort at conciliation, but without avail, and the ministers held no further 
intercourse during the remainder of their lives. In the writings of Dr. 
Small and Rev. Mr. Scott, Mr. Wright is shown as the stronger influence 
who persuaded Mr. Lambie in their religious transactions ; from particu- 
lars above given, however, and from Mr. Lambie’s subsequent history, he 
appears to have been, while undoubtedly sincere, a man with a distinctly 
individualistic outlook on matters of church policy. His separation from 
Mr. Wright was probably the outcome of a long gathering spirit of dis- 
agreement on both sides. 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


267 


Pitcairngreen congregation apparently lost a fair proportion of mem- 
bers at this time, and when the session next met on Monday, ist April, 
only one elder, James Clark, took his seat with the Moderator. Another 
elder was shortly afterwards ordained. 

There is evidence that the congregation was now being sued for debts 
due to some of their former brethren; and on the last Sabbath in October, 
1853, Public Worship was held in the Church for the last time ; the 
building was soon afterwards removed, the stones being used to erect a 
number of cottages still forming part of the village. 

Mr. Lambie now left for Glasgow where for a period of seven years 
he acted as a private teacher of English at 29 Cumberland Street, residing 
in turn at St. Vincent Street, Abbotsford Place, Crown Street, and Warwick 
Street. There is no evidence of his having preached while in Glasgow. 

During this period Mr. Lambie visited his former flock quarterly, 
when services were conducted in Almondbank School House. In 1861, 
however, he became persuaded that he should not have left the former 
congregation, and also expressed his regret for "having taken part at 
length in disposing of the property which had been set apart for the public 
cause of God in this place.” He, therefore, returned to his people, and on 
the last Sabbath of May, 1861, pubhc worship was recommenced at 
Ruthven Castle, and was continued regularly thereafter until 25th May, 
1862, when the congregation removed to a combined Church and School 
House which Mr. Lambie had purchased and extended at Bridgeton of 
Almondbank. One elder remained of the former Session, and met with 
Mr. Lambie when the Session was constituted on 8th July, 1861 — the 
first time since October, 1853. ‘ 

Mr. Lambie and his daughter now commenced a school which met in 
the new premises, the minister teaching the boys and his daughter the 
girls. Tributes have been paid to the minister’s efficiency in this capacity, 
and his dual role of minister and dominie is also recalled in the local rhyme 
still current ; 

The minister, the dominie, and Mr. Andrew Lamb 
Went to pull pears where three pears hang. 

Each pulled a pear. 

Yet two still were there. 

The significance, of course, being that the minister, the dominie and Mr. 
Andrew Lamb were one and the same person. 

On 6th September, 1870, the Session met and agreed that it be re- 
corded in the minutes "That this Associate Session of a Remnant of 
Original Seceders was constituted on ist April, 1850, and continues to be 

1 “ Session Book Belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher Congregation, 
Pitcairngreen.” 

E 


268 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


constituted in a way of testifying against making light of untruthfulness 
in a clause of an Act of the Associate Presbytery of Original Seceders 
passed in October, 1849.” 

At the same meeting it was agreed that the congregation renew our 
National vows, and this was proceeded with at Bridgeton on 9th March, 
1871, when the Bond for renewing our Solemn Covenants adopted by the 
Associate Synod of Original Seceders in 1828 was renewed and subscribed 
by the minister, an elder, and eleven women. 

About this time, Mr. Lambie published a document remarkable as 
coming from one who had objected to any altering of the testimony at 
the Union of 1842. This was an “Appendix” to the Testimony of 1827 
“Shewing the manner in which the Testimony emitted by the Associate 
Synod of Original Seceders is held in more agreeableness to its title-page 
by the Remnant of Original Seceders.” This appendix was “Agreed on by 
the Associate Session of Bridgeton (Almondbank),” and the publication was, 
apparently, advertised in the press with a statement that the “Appendix” 
was “ Not properly an addition to the Testimony,” a somewhat am- 
biguous statement when it is considered that persons subsequently apply- 
ing for admission to the Almondbank communion had to state their 
acceptance of the Testimony of 1827 in the manner stated in the Appendix, 
which contains a few pages of suggested amendments to the original 
wording of the “ Testimony.” 

A new and surprising development was now impending in Mr. Lambie ’s 
career, for early in 1874 he received an invitation to go as Minister in 
charge of a party who had seceded from Rev. J. Wright’s ministry in 
Edinburgh ; whither he removed apparently in the latter part of that year. 
On loth May, 1874, it had been declared from the Almondbank pulpit 
that the Session at that place was now in Communion with the Associate 
Session of the Congregation presently meeting at Forrest Road, Edin- 
burgh, both holding the Testimony in the manner stated in the Appendix ; 
and on 23rd November, 1875, a day of Thanksgiving was observed by the 
congregation particularly on this account. 

After his removal to Edinburgh, Mr. Lambie visited Almondbank for 
some eight weeks every summer, as well as on occasional dates throughout 
the year. For the edification of the congregation there he posted a 
sermon to them weekly during his absence which was read to his adher- 
ents by an elder. 

On 12th July, 1876, a new elder, David Henry, was elected by the 
Session “ With the understood consent of the other members of the 
congregation.” 

On 26th July, 1879, the Almondbank Session was constituted by Mr. 
Andrew Lambie when Charles Martin of the Forrest Road, Edinburgh, 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


269 


congregation took part with him, and on account of “ David Henry, the 
elder in this place, having gone aside with the party at Edinburgh ” 
whom Mr. Lambie had left on 22nd April, 1879, it was agreed to hold a 
meeting of the congregation to elect an elder and two deacons. George 
Henry was elected Elder and John McEwan and Alexander Robertson 
were elected Deacons, and all were Ordained to office at Forrest Road, 
Edinburgh, on 23rd October, 1879. It may be said that the elder and 
members who “went aside” at this time became connected with the 
United Original Secession congregation at Perth. 

The last time Mr. Lambie ministered at Pitcaimgreen was when he 
conducted a Communion Service at New Year, 1886. After his death on 
23rd May following, sermons were read to the remaining members by 
Alexander Galletly Robertson, except for two summer months annually, 
until 1898, when they were read by Mr. Charles Martin of Forrest Road 
Congregation, Edinburgh. The attendance varied in the last years from 
9 to 22, dependent on the season : a lady then in attendance writes : — 
‘ ‘ My father and mother and eight of a family (all ages, pram too) walked 
from Perth (4J miles) every Sunday winter and summer. I never heard 
any disturbance caused by the young ones in the church even although 
they were only babies, and my father used to say we never got a cold 
even although we walked through snow all the way. Our Perth neigh- 
bours were amused that there was not a church in Perth good enough for 
us, and no doubt we thought we were the only right ones. My father 
never entered another church after joining Mr. Lambie’s in 1871 till his 
death in 1912. He was a staunch Seceder.” 

The meeting house was finally closed in 1906 owing to the death at 
the age of 83 of Sarah Galletly, the Beadle, who had first entered Mr. 
Lambie’s service as a maid in 1843. She was a “Worthy” and is said to 
play a part in S. R. Crockett’s story, “ The Lilac Sunbonnet.” She is 
buried in the same grave as Mr. Lambie in Redgorton Churchyard. 

Mr. Lambie’s memory I find still fresh and greatly respected in Pit- 
caimgreen. He is said to have wandered much in the district lost in 
meditation, and Dr. Small tells of seeing him at the window of his humble 
manse — which was part of the school-cum-church, ‘ ‘ Bending over a book 
which my friend suggested was probably the Hebrew Bible — his close 
companion.” The httle church still stands, having been converted to a 
dwelling house. 

The token of this congregation reads : — 

“ Pitcaimgreen ” and on the reverse : — 

“ Mr. Lambie 
1829.” 

After the dispute between Mr. Lambie and the Forrest Road, Edin- 


270 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


burgh, congregation in 1879, Rev. William Scott of Edinburgh preached 
occasionally to his supporters at Pitcaimgreen until as late as 1892 ; he 
also conducted at least one marriage ceremony in that place. 

VI 

EDINBURGH CONGREGATION 

The third and largest congregation forming the Associate (Anti- 
Burgher) Presbytery in 1842 was that in Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. 
This congregation emerged as a result of the union in 1820 between the 
Associate (Burgher) and General Associate (Anti-Burgher) New Light 
Synods, when sixteen protesting members of various congregations invited 
Rev. George Paxton, Professor of Theology to the latter Synod, to preach 
and take them under his pastoral care. This he did, the first place of 
meeting, which was rented, being the former Gaelic Chapel in Castle 
W5md, but later there was built a Church in Infittmary Street to seat 980 
which accommodation was frequently overtaxed owing to the reputation 
of the Professor as a Preacher. The union of the Constitutional Presbytery 
and the Synod of Protestors was consummated within its walls in 1827, 
and the testimony of the united body so formed approved, to which this 
congregation has continued to adhere until to-day. 

On 8th July, 1834, Rev. James Wright, of Coupar Angus, was elected 
Colleague and Successor to Professor Paxton. The call was signed by 385 
members and 68 adherents, indicative of the strength of Infirmary Street 
Church at this time. Professor Paxton died on 9th April, 1837, 
buried in St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard. 

As previously stated the vast majority of the congregation remained 
with Mr. Wright at the breach in 1842 and Infirmary Street church was 
sold the following year, that of the Disruption, to the Free Church Tolbooth 
Congregation. After a period of worship in the Free Masons’ Hall, Niddry 
Street, they removed in Autumn, 1844, to their present Church in Lauriston 
Street, built that year to seat seven hundred. By the title deeds, this 
building is secured to the members who adhere to and maintain the 
Testimony of 1827.* 

In 1845, Covenant Renovation was engaged in under Messrs. Wright 
and Lambie when no members subscribed the bond. 2 

During the seven years following their retiral from the Synod, i.e., 
until 1849, Messrs. Wright and Lambie assisted each other at Communion 
Seasons. After Mr. Lambie’s withdrawal, Mr. Wright and his successor 

1 Annals and Statistics (Scott). 

2 Lauriston Street Session Records. 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


271 


conducted these arduous times of Fast Day, Preparatory, Action and 
Thanksgiving Services single handed. 

From Mr. Lambie’s withdrawal, it may here be stated, Mr. Wright 
declined to admit the extinction of the Associate Presbytery and continued 
to appoint an elder to act with him in a Presbyterial capacity, and this 
custom was continued by the Rev. Walter McLeod. This is the body 
referred to as the “Associate Presbytery” in the remainder of the current 
chapter. 1 

In the winter months each year, commencing in 1850, Mr. Wright 
delivered his courses of Sabbath evening lectures on Prophetic Subjects. 
Being an excellent Orator and employing dramatic gesture these attracted 
crowds which filled Lauriston Street Church. The lectures were later 
published in book form, and received favourable notices from the press of 
that day. 

In addition, for eight years, from December 1857, Mr. Wright published 
a small monthly periodical. The Ark, which will amply repay study 
to-day to such as are interested in the cause of the Second Reformation, 
as well as providing historical students of the period with a source for 
stud5dng the conservative attitude to the happenings of that time. 
Latterly it enjoyed some circulation furth of Scotland and was increased 
in size. A hst of Mr. Wright’s other publications is given in Scott’s 
Annals of the Original Secession Church. 

In 1865 the congregation presented a unanimous call to the Associate 
Presbytery addressed to Mr. Duncan Wright, a son of Rev. James Wright, 
to become colleague and successor to the latter, signed by about 200 per- 
sons, and this being sustained, he was ordained and inducted on 26th 
October, 1865. In 1869 Rev. Duncan Wright requested leave of absence 
on the grounds of ill-health supported by two medical certificates, and 
undertook a voyage to Australia. Two years later he returned, but de- 
clined to resume ministerial functions for reasons given to the Presbytery, 
but not made public, and he was allowed to resign his colleagueship. He 
remained, however, in membership of Lauriston Street Church till his death.2 

In the following years certain charges were made against Rev. James 
Wright, now again sole pastor, on account of which, it was alleged, persons 
were withdrawing from the congregation. This culminated on 27th 
September, 1873, in the addressing of a letter to Mr. Wright signed by 
ten members of Session. “Under a sincere desire for the honour and 
purity of the Church,” they pressed on the minister the urgent necessity 
of taking such steps as should at once lead to an immediate discovery of 
the truth. On 2nd October following Mr. Wright replied that without 

1 Communicated by Mr. John McLeod. ' 

2 Lauriston Street Session Minutes. 


272 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


prejudice of his Presbyterial rights, being in providence the only ordained 
minister of the Original Secession Church, he had no objection to accom- 
panying any aged and experienced member of their number to his accusers 
so as to give and receive explanations that might allay suspicion. This 
not being considered satisfactory by the ten members of Session, on 
the ground that the charges existed in writing as distinct from mere 
suspicion, they intimated to Mr. Wright that until he emerged from the 
painful position in which he was placed, they could not act as a Session 
with him as Moderator. 

At a meeting of Session subsequently held Mr. Wright tendered a 
solemn oath denying the charges laid against him. It was then stated by 
Mr. Wright’s supporters that “As an oath putteth an end to all strife, 
and Mr. Wright having denied all knowledge as to the things laid to his 
charge, we were not in a position to take further steps in regard to him.” 
The complainers, however, were not prepared to let the matter rest here, 
particularly as Mr. Wright subsequently stated that the parties making 
the allegation were not to be dealt with as slanderers, and is alleged to 
have admitted they had grounds for what they said. (“Appendix, con- 
taining notes on the Testimony, 1827, and a plain Statement of Facts 
shewing the cause of the separation from Mr. James Wright, Minister of 
Lauriston Street Congregation, by a majority of the members of his 
Session and a considerable number of the congregation,” a pamphlet 
dated Edinburgh, 28th May, 1874, 32 pp., published by the party with- 
drawing at this time, at p. 27.) 

On ist December a paper was sent to Mr. Wright, signatures to which 
had been received by a committee, “Suggested and requested by several 
members of the Congregation.” This was a request to Mr. Wright to 
resign his ministerial duties in the event of his not clearing himself of the 
Jama. It was stated in the document that of say, sixty four visited, fifty 
four had given their names, this first number being “about half the 
congregation.” To quote the pamphlet mentioned above, which is not, 
of course, an independent document, “All peace being now at an end, 
and little else heard from the pulpit but discourses in self-defence, a de- 
claration and protest was drawn up, and, there being no other way of 
obtaining a hearing, it was agreed that the same should be read at the 
foot of the pulpit steps in presence of the congregation after divine services 
were over,” which was accordingly done on the afternoon of Sabbath, 
14th December, 1873, this including the following sentences, “Because in a 
mysterious providence the Church being so reduced we have no competent 
Court for the trial of our Pastor, and having taken all the means warranted, 
by the Word of God and our standards, either to bring the matter to a 
favourable issue or persuade him to resign. And whereas (the charges 


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273 


against Mr. Wright) are a source of stumbling to many and have been 
the means of thinning our numbers from year to year therefore, we 
office-bearers and numbers of the said Lauriston Original Secession Church, 
in retiring from under the ministry of the said James Wright as our only 
alternative we now do disclaim all imputations of rending the Church 
but leave the responsibility of that upon our said pastor.” This document 
bore the signatures of two elders, two deacons, and two members. The 
protestors and their followers then left to form the Forrest Road Original 
Secession Congregation. It may be added that three elders adhered to 
Mr. Wright at this time.* 

Shortly after this breach, a second colleague to Mr. Wright was called 
in the person of Mr. Walter McLeod, who had been licensed to preach by 
the Associate Presbytery on i6th October, 1871. Mr. McLeod had been a 
teacher in Canongate Parochial School and later, being connected with the 
Free Church of Scotland, acted as their missionary and schoolmaster to 
an English Speaking Community at Landernan, Normandy. Returning to 
Scotland, he attended Lauriston Street Church, became convinced of the 
correctness of Mr. Wright’s doctrinal and denominational standpoint, and 
commenced studies for the ministry. On a memorial presented to the 
Associate Presbytery by a deputation of the congregation, it was agreed 
to give him a call, which was accepted on 13th April, 1874, and he was 
ordained on 23rd April, 1874.2 

As Mr. McLeod was the last of those receiving his theological training 
at the hands of Rev. James Wright, it is perhaps fit to record a brief note 
on the Divinity HaU which Mr. Wright conducted and a list of the students 
who attended, which I have not seen recorded in any other work. The 
system of tuition took the form of a series of lectures on the scriptural 
doctrines and the manner of treating them. 


STUDENTS. 

Rev. David Berry, later of Dundee - - - 

Rev. Duncan Wright, of Lauriston Street Church 
Rev. Walter McLeod, of Lauriston Street Church 
Rev. William Scott, later of South Clerk Street 
Church, Edinburgh . _ . . _ 

Rev. Henry Paton, later of Gorgie Road Associate 
Original Secession Church _ - - - 

Andrew Ritchie, of Lauriston Street Church, 
licensed as a Preacher on 22nd June, 1863 : 

Suspended 


Dates of Attending 
Edinburgh University. 

1840-41, 1843-45 

1856-58 

1860-63 

Ending 1880 

Grad. M.A. 1880 


1865 


1 Lauriston Street Session Minutes. 
Do. 


274 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


It is impossible at this date to give the years when the above students 
attended for training. It is known that these lectures were also attended 
by hearers from the congregation. 

About i860 an endeavour was made to secure a hall where the students 
could conduct a mission. After mention in the Session Minutes from time 
to time the project was allowed to drop. 

In 1862, Rev. John Tyndal, a Free Church Probationer, whose up- 
bringing had been in the Original Burgher Synod which entered the 
Church of Scotland in 1839, who had “ come out ” at the Disruption, 
became attached to the Associate Presbytery, and occasionally occupied 
the Lauriston Street pulpit. He was dis-satisfied at the caU presented to 
Rev. Duncan Wright, and, on 19th October, 1868, he was excluded from 
membership. He then preached in a hall for a time to a small number of 
supporters, and in 1873, joined those who then separated from Rev. Mr. 
Wright. About eight years later he was admitted to the United Original 
Secession Church and was employed as a salaried preacher to the vacant 
charges in that denomination. 

Mr. Wright died at Edinburgh on 24th February, 1878, a year earlier 
than stated in Scott’s Annals, in the 76th year of his age and 49th of 
his ministry. He is buried in St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard. From his writings 
he was obviously a man of marked ability, and the isolation and dis- 
affection which marked his later years are thus the more to be regretted. 
Descendants of Mr. Wright are still in Membership of the congregation. 

In 1883 Mr. McLeod published in manuscript form to the congregation 
a refutation of the charges levelled against Mr. Wright ten years earUer.‘ 
It may be added that one elder and one deacon seceding in 1873 after- 
wards returned, and that Mr. Wright’s ministry was remembered tenderly 
and thankfully by the disaffected party at the breach on the occasion of a 
meeting held on 19th November, 1879, in South Clerk Street Church.^ 

Rev. Walter McLeod enjoyed a peaceful ministry lasting for 34 years 
after the decease of Mr. Wright. He delivered special lecture referring to 
the Franchise, The Peace Conference at the Hague, and the Union of 
the Churches in 1900. For many years he conducted three diets of worship 
every Sabbath, and at his evening services, when dealing with matters of 
Scottish Church History, a frequent auditor was Dr. Hay Fleming, the 
well-known historian. 

An important incident during Mr. McLeod’s ministry was the re- 
issuing in 1896 of an edition of the (Anti-Burgher) Testimony of 1827 
(Edinburgh, Richard Cameron, 1896). To quote the foreword, “This 
reprint of the testimony is issued by the Session of the Original Secession 

1 Communicated by Mr. John McLeod 

^ South Clerk Street Records — Notes by Rev. H. Paton, M.A. 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


275 


Church, Lauriston Street, Edinburgh, constituted in the way of main- 
taining the principles therein witnessed for . . . it is not surprising that 
these doctrines are by the majority practically disowned. This, however, 
does not effect their truth, nor lessen the obligation of those who have 
professed them. Desertion, on however large a scale, does not make a 
good cause bad.” 

Mr. McLeod died, much regretted by his congregation, at Edinburgh 
on i2th October, 1912, in the 8ist year of his age and 41st year of his 
ministry. He is buried in Newington Cemetery. He left a Paper, drawn 
up by himself in expectation of his death, containing considerations for 
the church and her members on the occasion of their being deprived of a 
minister, and admonishing them faithfully to adhere to their profession 
and to be diligent and prayerful in attending on all Services till the Lord 
gave them another pastor after his own heart. This paper was read after 
the ordinary services on the second Sabbath after his death and was 
received by the congregation with much appreciation. 

Mr. McLeod was author of (i) John Brown of Priesthill, a Booklet 
for the Young in the "Scottish Mart5u:s Series,” published in 1858 ; 
(2) The Synod and the West Kirk Images, a pamphlet reviewing the pro- 
ceedings of the Synod of Lothian and Tweedale concerning a petition 
praying for the removal of certain images and decorations of a popish 
character in the West Kirk of Edinburgh commonly called St. Cuthbert’s 
Church. This is signed "A Friend of the Church,” and is dated, 
" Edinburgh, 15th November, 1906;” (3) A number of articles in the Ark, 
the periodical previously referred to. 

Although a fund was raised to encourage any young man who inclined 
towards the ministry, Mr. McLeod has had no successor in the pulpit in 
Lauriston Street, and no communion services have been held since his 
death, nor has any minister occupied the pulpit. Two diets of worship 
have, however, been maintained since 1912, and these are now held at 
II a.m. and 3 p.m. At first, after Rev. Walter McLeod’s death, several 
elders shared the duties of preaching, but they are now entirely undertaken 
by Mr. John McLeod, Session Clerk, son of the last minister. Several 
accessions have taken place since the death of Rev. Walter McLeod. ^ 

Despite the long vacancy, the spreading of the town, and many other 
difficulties, a congregation of some twenty-five continues to attend at the 
Church, when the service is surely more in keeping with that of early 
seceders than in any other place of worship now existing. The Praise, 
led by a Precentor, usually consists at each service of three portions 
selected from one psalm. In summer months a Church History class is 
conducted in mid-week when lectures by Rev. J. Wright, Rev. W. McLeod, 


1 Communicated by Mr. John McLeod. 


276 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


and Mr. John McLeod are read by the latter. This activity dates back to 
the days of Mr. Wright and is intended for and attended by young and 
old, the attendance usually exceeding a dozen. 

Shortly before this war the area in which their Church is situated was 
earmarked for demolition, and a prospect arose of the congregation being 
removed to other premises. On a plebiscite, the people were found to be 
divided regarding the suitability of a building site offered in recompense 
of their present church, and the outbreak of war delayed for the present 
the necessity of a decision. There exists, therefore, a chance that yet a 
new place of worship may be built and occupied by the congregation, 
which might have far-reaching effects on their prospects of survival. 
Lauriston Street Church can claim a long Secession pedigree, and the 
Congregation’s record of having existed for 95 years, independent of any 
properly constituted court superior to their Kirk Session, is unique in the 
annals of Scottish Church History. 

Elders are now ordained on behalf of the Session by Mr. John McLeod, 
and the last question (No. XII) of the Formula remains unaltered as it 
has stood since drafted by the First Anti-Burghers at the Split of 1747 ; 

“ Do you acknowledge and promise subjection to the Session 
of this Congregation as presently constituted in a way of testifying 
against the sinful management of the prevailing party in the Sjmod 
at some of the first diets of their meeting at Edinburgh in April, 
1747 : And do you approve of, and purpose to adhere to, and 
maintain, the said testimony, in your station and capacity ; and 
do you approve of, and purpose to adhere to, and maintain the 
Sentence of Synod in April, 1746, concerning the religious clause 
of some burgess oaths, and that in opposition to all tenets and 
practices to the contrary ? ” 

This question is now in use in no other congregation. 

The Token of this congregation reads — 

“Associate Congregan” 1821 
and on the reverse side — 

“Geo. Paxton, Minister, Edinburgh.” 


FORREST ROAD ORIGINAL SECESSION CHURCH 
(later South Ci,erk Street Original Secession Church) 

AND ITS OFF-SHOOTS 

Those withdrawing from Lauriston Street Church after 14th December, 
1873, convened the following and subsequent Sabbaths in the Oddfellows 
Hall, Forrest Road. Apparently, immediately after their secession from 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


277 


Mr. Wright’s ministry, they got into communication with Rev. Andrew 
Lambie of Pitcairngreen, who had now been out of communion with their 
former pastor for almost a quarter of a century. Several conferences 
followed between Mr. Lambie and the former Lauriston Street Office- 
Bearers, and he and they finally expressed agreement in (a) holding the 
Associate (Anti-Burgher) Testimony of 1827 in the manner declared in 
the notes agreed on by the Associate Session of Bridgeton, Almond Bank 
(formerly of Pitcairngreen) ; (b) that they approved of the withdrawal of 
the Pitcairngreen Congregation from Communion with Rev. James Wright 
of Edinburgh in 1850 on the grounds stated in these notes. The Edinburgh 
office-bearers therefore called on Mr. Lambie “As minister to remnant of 
Original Seceders” to constitute themselves as a Session, with him as 
Moderator for the time.i Mr. Lambie thus became minister-in-charge of 
the congregation and soon afterwards removed to Edinburgh, visiting 
Pitcairngreen frequently to continue his duties there. In his absence 
from Edinburgh prayer meetings were conducted by the elders. An 
important incident in the history of this congregation was the solemn 
renewal of the Covenants at Forrest Road on 28th October, 1875, a half- 
yearly Fast Day when, after Mr. Lambie had conducted Divine Service 
in the forenoon, preaching from Acts xi, 23, thi Covenanting was proceeded 
with in the afternoon, the bond being subscribed by fifty-five persons in all. 

Until 1876, the association between the congregation and Mr. Lambie 
was of a happy nature. Commencing in that year, however, an unfortunate 
dispute arose between minister and people on a point which can now only 
be regarded as an unimportant one. This was the objection taken by Mr. 
Lambie to the holding of Congregational Meetings to discuss the affairs 
of the church ; which assemblies he decried as savouring of rebellion, 
treachery, apostacy, innovation, a violation of scripture, independency in 
bud and principle, and finally declared them to be, “ Sinful, both root 
and branch of them.” On this question a pamphlet, “Reformation 
Principles Vindicated, or a defence of congregational meetings and the 
position of the Remnant of Original Seceders pointed out by their Appen- 
dix to the 1827 Testimony,” by William Scott (afterwards minister of 
the congregation) (Edinburgh, James Gemmell, 1878), was published on 
behalf of those opposed to Mr. Lambie in the first part of which the author 
in scholarly fashion traced the history of these gatherings from the days of 
The First Book of Discipline. This is really an excellent historical study, 
and one can only regret the devoting of the author’s talents to an un- 
important end, judged by modern standards. In the second part, he 
expresses doubts as to the competency of the Notes to the Testimony of 
1827 drawn up by the Almondbank Session as being an act outwith the 

1 “ Appendix, Containing Notes on The Testimony of 1827,” previously quoted. 


278 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


jurisdiction of a Kirk Session, a feeling which" was, apparently, growing 
amongst the Forrest Road Congregation. Here Mr. Scott says, “The 
designation we have taken is that of a remnant. We have no courts 
superior to a Kirk Session. Nevertheless, if we keep the attainments we 
have inherited, we are the Church of God, and his witnessing people." 
To the first part, Mr. Lambie replied in an undated pamphlet entitled 
“ Letter to Remnant of Original Seceders ” (Edinburgh, James Gemmell). 
Mr. Scott later published a duplicated paper replying to a statement 
from the pulpit by Mr. Lambie on the subject on 5th January, 1879. 
These matters were debated at many meetings of Session, and finally at 
one of these held on 22nd April, 1879, Mr. Lambie intimated his resigna- 
tion ; his subsequent history and that of his followers being told later. 
In fairness, however, I may say that the foregoing paragraph is drawn up 
from sources unsympathetic to Mr. Lambie : whose supporters alleged 
that the root of the trouble was his refusal to ordain Mr. Scott single- 
handed. 

Shortly after, an opportunity arose for the acquisition by the congrega- 
tion of a building eminently suited to their purposes which had an earlier 
Secession history. Here the congregation of Rev. Archibald Brown had 
worshipped from 1871 until 'the minister became incapacitated in 1878. 
At first, the proposal made was that this and the Forrest Road congrega- 
tion unite, but the two small groups found that the question of the Burgess 
Oath stood in the way of union, the former Forrest Road congregation 
demanding that Mr. Brown's people first admit that the swearing of the 
Burgess Oath had been sinful. This they refused to do. However, in the 
summer of 1879, the Forrest Road Congregation moved as tenants to 
these premises, which are rather unique, being situated at the rear of an 
ordinary Edinburgh tenement No. 52 (formerly 36) South Clerk Street, 
access being gained by an ordinary entry, and the actual Church or Hall 
being situated on the garden ground behind. The size is 42 feet long by 
20 feet broad, making it a very suitable meeting house for a small congrega- 
tion, seating being provided for 150 persons.* 

Soon afterwards, it was agreed that Mr. William Scott deliver trial 
discourses with a view to a call being made out to him to become minister 
of the congregation. After three of these had been delivered, at a meeting 
of the congregation held on 19th November, 1879, Mr. Scott was called 
on the motion of Mr. James Paton, Elder.^ 

Mr. Scott, like them, came originally from Lauriston Street Congrega- 
tion. He at first was reluctant to accept the call, his uncertain health, 
which later became manifest, perhaps being the reason. In face of the 

1 Closed Record : Anderson and Others v. Lyon and Others. 

2 Notes by Rev. Henry Paton, M.A. 


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279 


congregation, however, he’ was solemnly charged by the elders not to 
hold back, and finally intimated his acceptance, undertaking the charge 
of the congregation accompanied by fasting and prayer on the part of the 
people. Mr. Scott, of course, did not receive Ordination, and was accused 
later in a newspaper correspondence of having “vaulted irregularly into 
the pulpit.”! 

On 19th March, 1880, a “Declaratory Statement” was published 
(duplicated) by the Session on the subject of Mr. Lambie’s “Appendix to 
the Testimony of 1827.” This matter had been under discussion by them 
at two sederunts, and the Court found that the Appendix was “Informal 
both in form and design ; that it had never been judicially enacted, and 
consequently can be of no force nor authority or standing in the Church.” 
They also called on the members of the congregation to “Mourn over the 
above steps of defection, as they themselves desire to do, and to implore 
forgiveness of their sin” in countenancing the publication from 1874 until 
that date. 

In 1881, this congregation became the possessors of an excellent 
librar}^ — the gift of Mr. John Angus, senior elder. The printed catalogue, 
comprising Biblical and Biographical works. Commentaries, Histories, 
Sermons, and Pamphlets runs to 27 pages. 

South Clerk Street Session issued certain printed addresses and acts 
to the congregation under their charge. An address, dated 26th July, 
1883, was issued “To endeavour to stir up the people to a right im- 
pression of the Fast which they have appointed.” Included in a 
“ Flood of errors in doctrine ” noted are the restoration of St. Giles 
Cathedral, the apeing by the established Church of the Episcopalian 
bodies, the bringing of the inventions of men into the sanctuary, and the 
bringing of religion to ridicule by such organisations as the Salvation 
Army. An “Act for a congregational Fast,” published on 22nd January, 
1888, is framed in a sombre note : “ God has recently been diminishing 
our already small number by death. Beside the deaths . . . there has 
been a large amount of sickness in the congregation.” Regret is also 
expressed that the young showed no disposition to take the place of the 
fathers in the church. A second Act for a Fast, dated 6th February, 1900, 
refers with gratitude to the “Attempts at faithfulness to God . . . made 
upon the part of several ministers and a considerable body of the people 
of the Free Church of Scotland in lifting up the banner of truth and a 
testimony against error in many particulars.” This also states, “ (God) 
has given us to be reduced in number by death and defection until we are 
now in number very few, while he has not been adding to our number.” 
The membership was then about 20. 

1 Christian Leader, Dec. 1883, Jan. 1884. 


280 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


The peace of this congregation was again disturbed, however, within 
a few years of Mr. Scott’s Settlement and its promise arrested in unhappy 
fashion. As early as 1885 complaint was made at a meeting of office- 
bearers regarding the unpunctuality of the commencement of Sabbath 
services ; these, it was alleged, frequently started an average of three 
quarters of an hour late. The reason for this was the feeble and uncertain 
health of Mr. Scott, the Minister. Five years later, in March, 1890, no 
improvement having been made, a deacon presented a paper on the 
subject to the Session, but believing the representation of matters in the 
congregation would induce the Session to take the matter up, he withdrew 
it. Another year passing without change, however, he again presented 
his paper. The petitioner stated inter alia that on account of the tedious 
waiting, the congregation actually viewed with regret and dismay the 
occasional appearance of any strangers in their midst. The petition 
resulted in some disaffection and threatened an immediate disruption of 
the congregation. Consequently the petitioner again withdrew his paper 
on the understanding that improvement would be accomplished within 
the ensuing year. 

As time passed with no improvement yet resulting, a number of 
members resolved to make a further representation on the matter to the 
session stating: “ The protracted waitings are most trying to flesh and 

blood, and the apparent helplessness of reformation renders the position 
wellnigh unendurable. The ordinances are in a great measure rendered 
ineffectual ; the benefits of the Sabbath lost, and spiritual life almost 
destroyed . . . and unless a speedy remedy be applied the result will be 
the upbreaking and dispersion of the congregation.” 

The reply of the Session to this representation is dated 8th January, 
1892, and included the following passages : “ The Session desire to remind 
the subscribers that any failure in keeping these hours, so far as the minister 
is concerned, is due to God’s afflicting hand being upon him, and through 
him on the congregation. The Court feel that the congregation is liable 
to overlook the fact that the affliction is a congregational one, and that 
it calls the people, and the congregation as such, to search and see why 
God is thus dealing with them. . . . They in the meantime recommend 
the subscribers of the representation to exercise a little more patience, 
when they think that in a short time, in God’s good providence, better 
things in this respect may emerge.” 

This reply is said to have been the work of the minister himself. 

The Representers being much dissatisfied with the Session’s reply 
lodged a further representation at some length on the subject, from which 
one paragraph may be quoted : ” But, further, the representers cannot 
but be of the opinion that had the Session been really desirous to find a 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


281 


remedy, they had not so far to seek for such a remedy. They feel bound to 
remind them that on the last occasion the congregation was left without 
a minister, the Session then acknowledged as a Divine mercy that in the 
providence of God, not only our present Pastor, but at least one other 
young man in the congregation were so far advanced with studies as to 
be eligible for a call to the ministry. After the selection of our present 
Pastor, the other still continued to be and still is connected with the 
congregation.” The young man referred to was Mr. Henry Paton, whom 
we meet next under the heading of ‘‘Associate Congregation of Original 
Seceders, Gorgie Road.” This representation was returned unanswered, 
and, as a consequence, to quote, ‘‘ The True Cause of the separation 
from the Kirk Session of Original Seceders worshipping at 36 South Clerk 
Street, Edinburgh, which took place on 17th April, 1892,” a i6-pp. 
pamphlet printed by the Darien Press, Bristo Place, Edinburgh, from 
which these particulars are reproduced, ‘‘ (as) the congregation was 
divided against itself . . . with no immediate hope of the restoration of 
amicable relations, in the interests of the public cause and also to secure 
the edification of their own souls and the souls of those intrusted to them 
in the use of such ordinanaces as God might give them,” a protest signed 
by four members was read in front of the pulpit on 17th April, 1892, 
after which the protestors and their supporters withdrew to found a new 
Congregation. 

The loss of these members weakened greatly the South Clerk Street 
cause, which congregation is understood never to have exceeded a member- 
ship of thirty-five. In 1912 the average attendance was twelve ; in 
that year, however, a few persons who had been aggrieved with the 
attitude adopted by the United Original Secession Synod to the Deceased 
Wife’s Sister Act in 1910 left Victoria Terrace United Original Secession 
Church for South Clerk Street. They did not long remain in membership, 
however, and in the last years only some half-dozen members remained. 
Mr. Scott died at Edinburgh on ist January, 1926, in the 79th year of 
his age and 46th of his ministry, and is buried in Newington Cemetery. 
To the last his health rendered punctual commencement of the services 
uncertain. His published writings comprise only the pamphlet and 
Remarks referred to earlier, but for several years he assisted Sir WiUiam 
Fraser in the preparation of his Family Histories. Some who were not 
his supporters recall him as a sound evangelical preacher. His brother. 
Rev. Walter Scott, who died in 1916, was minister to the Free Presbyterian 
Groups in Ontario. ^ 

Until 1912 the congregation in maintaining its testimony against any 

1 History of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Glasgow, 1933 ; and 
Communication by Mr. A. W. Dickson, Edinburgh. 


282 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


innovation in worship continued the custom of “reading the line” in 
psalmody, although latterly two lines were read together instead of one. 
The old custom was then abolished, this surely being the last non-gaelic 
congregation in Scotland to adhere to it.* 

After Mr. Scott’s death the few remaining members held Sabbath 
afternoon Devotional meetings for a period of about five years in a house 
in Warrender Park Road. At the dissolution the library, previously 
referred to, was handed over to the Edinburgh Free Presbyterian congrega- 
tion.2 The Church building was previously sold on 31st May, 1926, to 
a congregation of Jews, but is now occupied as an Evangelical Church. 
The Communion token of this congregation reads — 

"Associate Congregation of Original Seceders” 
and on the reverse — 

“Edinburgh, 1880. Wm. Scott.” 


VIII 

(Second) FORREST ROAD ORIGINAL SECESSION CHURCH. 

“ Mr. Lambie intends to preach if the Lord will on Thursday as usual 
in the Oddfellows Hall under the same banner.” This notice was issued 
to a number of members of the Forrest Road Congregation by Charles 
Martin, late Session Clerk to that congregation, .on the evening of 22nd 
April, 1879, after Mr. Lambie had separated from his late Session, and 
for a short time, until the former congregation removed to their new abode 
at South Clerk Street, the two sections met in different rooms under the 
same roof.^ 

Mr. Scott in his Annals gives the attendance on 9th January, 1882, 
as “probably 20.” One member of session, in addition to Mr. Martin, 
who was Mr. Lambie’s son-in-law, adhered to the minister, who was now 
growing old. On 23rd October, 1879, George Lebrun was ordained an 
elder, and John Horn a deacon ; the ordinations being carried out at a 
meeting of Session between the diets of worship on that date, a Fast Day.** 

Mr. Lambie continued to minister to his small number of adherents 
in Edinburgh, as well as the remnant in Pitcairngreen, till his death in 
Edinburgh on 23rd May, 1886, in the 87th year of his age and 58th of his 

^ Communicated by Messrs. James A. McLeod and A. W. Dickson. 

Communicated by Mr. James A. McLeod. 

Note by Rev. Henry Paton, M.A. 

^ Session Book belonging to the Associate Anti-Burgher congregation, Pitcairn- 
green. 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


283 


ministry. He is buried in Redgorton Churchyard. As well as his published 
works mentioned, he was the author of The Bible, the World’s Age ; 
The Old Paths ; Divisive Courses (Perth, C. G. Sidey, 1867). 

The Forrest Road group did not altogether cease with his death. 
So late as 1898 the survivors, now numbering on occasions up to 16, but 
usually about 6, continued to meet when the services were conducted by 
Mr. Charles Martin, in whose house they met from 1898, after the group 
left Forrest Road. Mr. Martin, who was a Librarian in Edinburgh Univer- 
sity, died late in 1902, and the remaining adherents, principally members 
of his family, then joined other communions. 

At Communion Services this congregation used Pitcaimgreen tokens. 
The records were destroyed some years ago.* 


IX 

ASSOCIATE CONGREGATION OF ORIGINAL SECEDERS 

(Gorgie Road). 

When the Protestors of 1892 withdrew from South Clerk Street Church 
they foregathered on the succeeding Sabbaths in the Oddfellows’ Hall, 
Forrest Road, where for a period of six months a prayer meeting was 
conducted, sermons and discourses being read from orthodox preachers. 
Endeavours were made during this period to heal the breach with their 
former brethren, but without avail ; they then published the pamphlet. 
The True Cause of the Separation from the Kirk-Session of Original 
Seceders worshipping at 36 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh, previously 
referred to. Herein a full narrative of the protestors’ conduct is given, 
and the papers framed by them printed in full. It was now felt that, 
when they had the means of obtaining public ordinances, they should 
no longer continue to meet in the fashion first adopted. Accordingly, 
at a meeting held on 23rd November, 1892, they requested one of their 
number, Mr. Henry Paton, M.A., who had studied at Edinburgh Uni- 
versity at the request of the South Clerk Street Congregation, and who 
had attended the theological lectures conducted by the Rev. James 
Wright, all with a view to entering the work of the ministry, to deliver 
trial discourses for a number of Sabbaths. These were sustained, and on 
nth January, 1893, a call was placed in his hands reading, “ We, the 
undersigned members and adherents of the Associate Congregation of 
Original Seceders, presently worshipping in the Oddfellows Hall, Forrest 
Road, Edinburgh, being presently destitute of a pastor . . . and consider- 

1 Communicated by Miss I. H. Martin, M.A., Edinburgh. • 


284 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


ing that though on account of the sinful defections of these times we are 
destitute of lawful church courts to which we can apply for the provision 
of a Pastor in the ordinary way, we are notwithstanding fully warranted 
by scripture and the practice of the church in former times when in like 
circumstances to call one to be our Pastor.” The names of one elder and 
eight members were appended. Mr. Paton accepted the caU, and on 29th 
January, 1893, dispensed ordinances for the first time. At a congregational 
meeting held on ist February two elders and a deacon were chosen and the 
regular presbyterian procedure followed regarding edict election and 
ordination. 1 There were thus in Edinburgh now four daughter congrega- 
tions of Lauriston Street Anti-Burger Church — one in connection with the 
U. O. S. Synod and three Independent Anti-Burgher congregations ; 
three Anti-Burgher ministers — Messrs. McLeod, Paton, and Scott — 
labouring in the city. In addition, the Pitcaimgreen remnant survived. 
In July, 1893, Mr. Paton issued an address. To the Members and Adherents 
of the Original Secession Church in Edinburgh (10 pp.). This pamphlet 
was an appeal to the various congregations of Seceders to enter on a 
Conference or Conferences with a view to healing the unhappy divisions 
existing among them. "Amidst the ecclesiastical anarchy and confusion 
which prevail on all hands (the author wrote) the Secession is silent as 
the grave. She dare not uplift the voice lest it should return with the 
echo of mockery and ridicule. Truth to say. Brethren, our divisions are at 
once our sin, our reproach, and our weakness.” No tangible result arose 
from this appeal, but Mr. Baton’s congregation made a further effort in 
December, 1894, by the publication of a Letter to Original Seceders in 
Edinburgh upon their divided condition (4 pp.) to promote a conference of 
these isolated congregations with a view to removing the causes of the 
dissensions between them ; this also had a fruitless reception. 

When it was apparent no reunion was likely, the congregation con- 
templated for a time the erection of a church, but owing to high building 
costs this plan was abandoned. An opportunity arose, however, for the 
acquisition by them of a Free Church Mission Hall situated in Gorgie 
Road. After renovation the building was opened as a church on 21st 
November, 1897, when Mr. Paton conducted three diets of worship, 
public intimation being made in the press and by handbills distributed in 
the district. At this stage of the congregation’s history the membership 
had risen to 21, and eleven children were baptised in the period ending 
1903. Many activities, in addition to the regular Sabbath Services, were 
conducted to cater for young and old. Amongst the former an aggressive 
work was undertaken including the formation of a Sabbath School 
attended by fifty children. A Bible Class, Prayer Meeting, and Psalmody 


i Communicated by Mr. Henry M. Paton. 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


285 


Class were the chief agencies amongst the adult members and adherents. 
An interesting point regarding the church building was the fact that it was 
the last church opened in connection with the Secession, and may remain 
so for aU time. 

The next milestone in the congregational history resulted from a visit 
paid by Mr. Paton as a delegate to the famous Psalm Singers Conference 
held in Belfast in 1902. There he made the acquaintance of the late Dr. 
Kerr of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, whom he invited to come to 
Edinburgh to address the Gorgie Road Congregation on the distinctive 
tenets of the Reformed Presbyterian and Original Secession Churches. 
Dr. Kerr fulfilled this mission on 6th September, 1902. Resulting from his 
visit a petition to the Reformed Presbyteries of Glasgow and Edinburgh 
was drawn up on 26th of the same month, craving, on behalf of Mr. 
Paton’s Congregation, admission to the Reformed Presbyterian Church ; 
the same destination, it will be remembered, to which Rev. David Berry 
and his congregation found their way over half a century earlier. 

At a special meeting of the Joint Presbyteries held at Glasgow on 
17th October, Rev. Mr. Paton and two elders presented the application. 
The Court expressed its pleasure at the petition, and appointed a com- 
mittee to meet the members of the congregation, with the result that a 
" Thoroughly satisfactory report ” was presented at the following meeting 
of the Presbyteries. The case finally came before the Reformed Presby- 
terian Synod on 12th May, 1903, in Nicholson Street Church, Glasgow. 
The decision of the Court in approving of the petition is interesting in 
relation to the fact that Mr. Paton had never received ordination. 

“ On Synod’s taking up the matter of the petition from the Associate 
Congregation of Original Seceders, Edinburgh, it was moved by Rev. 
J. P. Struthers, seconded by Mr. John McDonald, and agreed to, that we 
resolve to receive and admit the said congregation into full communion 
and fellowship with the Church. . . . The Synod wishes to place on record 
the fact that Mr. Paton was not ordained on his taking at the unanimous 
request and call of the people the pastoral care of the congregation. Such 
ordination was impossible in the circumstances as there was no presbytery 
with which the congregation had any connection. The minister and 
congregation were not and are not chargeable with any lawful neglect of 
Presbyterial order ... in exceptional circumstances and times, as at the 
period of the Reformation, men have been asked to undertake the ministra- 
tion of Word and Sacraments when ordination was impossible. The 
Synod therefore willingly recognises the position of Mr. Paton as a minister 
of the Gospel of Christ, and cordially sustains and endorses the action 
of his people and himself. A Commission of Synod was then appointed 

1 Reformed Presbyterian Synod Minutes. 


286 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


to proceed with the admission of the minister and congregation into the 
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 

The Commission duly met with Mr. Paton and his congregation 
in Gorgie Road Church on Friday, 22nd May, 1903, when the Modera- 
tor and other members of the Commission gave the right hand of fellow- 
ship to Mr. Paton and the office-bearers and members of Gorgie Road 
Church and admitted them to full communion with the Reformed Presby- 
terian Church of Scotland. 

The membership of the congregation, however, never rose much over 
21, and owing to a variety of causes, including withdrawals and lack of 
support from the Reformed Presbyterians in Edinburgh district, it was 
decided early in 1907 to close the Church, and in March of that year the 
building was sold to the Baptists, the last services being held on the 24th 
of that month. It is now occupied as a War Memorial Hall, but much 
altered. No formal dissolution of the congregation ever took place, and 
Rev. Mr. Paton and members of his family betook themselves to Loanhead 
Reformed Presbyterian Church. 

After the admission to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Gorgie 
Road congregation Mr. Paton took a full share of the duties incumbent 
on Synod members, acting amongst other appointments as Moderator of 
S5mod and Moderator of the Joint Presbyteries. Following the closing of 
the Edinburgh Church he frequently supplied vacant Reformed Presby- 
terian pulpits. Mr. Paton also represented the Reformed Presbyterian 
Church at their American S3mod in Chicago in May, 1909, and attended 
the Pan-Presbyterian Council at New York in June ; while in September, 
1911, he was their representative at the Pan-Presbyterian Council in 
Buda-Pesth. In the world of Scots letters he has left many monuments, to 
mention only a few, his editorship of Register of the Privy Council of 
Scotland, The Lyon in Mourning, The Baptismal Register of Rev. fohn 
McMillan, Greyfriars Interments, and numerous other historical works. 
He also acted as Inspector and Reporter for Scotland of the Royal Com- 
mission on Historical MSS., and like Rev. Wm. Scott assisted Sir William 
Fraser in the preparation of his Family Histories for several years. 

Mr. Paton died at Peebles as recently as 25th February, 1942, in the 
88th year of his age and 49th of his ministry. Until a year previous to 
his death he retained his connection with the Reformed Presbyterian 
S3mod. A son, Mr. Henry M. Paton, it is interesting to note, retains the 
Secession connection of his family and acts as Convener of the Original 
Secession Synod's Mutual Assistance Fund Committee. 

The token struck by Gorgie Road Congregation bears the inscription : 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


287 


“Original 

Secession 

Church 

Gorgie” 

and on the reverse : 

“Christ’s 

Crown 

and 

Covenant 

1893.’’ 

The records of Gorgie Road Church are now in the possession of Mr. 
Henry M. Baton. 


X 

A LEGAL ACTION. 

There falls to be noticed an interesting legal action in which certain 
of the later Anti-Burghers were concerned. This is a “ Reported Case ’’ 
and is known to lawyers as Anderson’s Trustees v. Scott, 1914, S.C., at 
page 942. 

To understand the case, we must cast our minds back to the formation 
of the United Original Secession Synod in 1842. It will be recalled that of 
Mr. Wright’s congregation in Edinburgh, a number adhered to the Synod. 
These formed a congregation and built a church in Adam Square, Edin- 
burgh. On 24th May, 1843, Rev. Archd. Brown was inducted as Pastor ; 
while a devout and generous man, he proved a thorn in the flesh to the 
Synod on account of his attitude towards a decision of that Court to permit 
the formation of Sabbath Schools in their congregations. Mr. Brown re- 
garded this decision as an encroachment on the function of office-bearers 
and heads of families as instructors of the young, and contended that the 
innovation had no scriptural authority. These views he vigorously ex- 
pressed in a pamphlet. Revival of Family Worship in opposition to the 
Sabbath School System (1857), which finally led to his suspension by the 
Synod on 26th May, 1858. It is not too much to say that the various 
representations, appeals, overtures, and finally libels ensuing out of Mr. 
Brown’s attitude on this question may have seriously retarded the initial 
growth of the Minority United Original Secession Synod after the union 
of the Majority with the Free Church in 1852, as for the 3 years prior 
to his suspension, the matter was discussed at no less than 39 sederunts 
of the Synod — ^in many instances no other business being dealt with — 


288 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


necessitating frequent sittings of the Court, causing great weariness, trial, 
and expense to the members intent on the consolidation and improvement 
of the position of that church. 

After his suspension, Mr. Brown's congregation sub-divided ; part 
adhered to him, ^nd part formed what is now Victoria Terrace United 
Original Secession Church. In 1870 the church in Adam Square was sold 
to Edinburgh Improvement Commissioners : Mr. Brown and his supporters 
now purchased for the sum of ;^^i,ioo the church in South Clerk Street 
previously referred to as being occupied by Mr. Scott’s congregation, a 
house above which (used for a manse) being included in the price. About 
1876 Mr. Brown became incapacitated through ill-health, and for two 
years afterwards services were conducted by lay-members. On 28th July, 
1878, the church was finally closed, the membership having declined to 
five men and eight women. An endeavour was made to sell the property, 
but without success. Mr. Brown died 5th February, 1879. 

The property was then let by the trustees of Mr. Brown’s congregation; 
the tenant of the church or hall being Mr. Scott’s congregation formerly 
of Forrest Road, who obtained occupancy for a rent of £30 per annum, 
reduced by degrees to £16. Finally, only one trustee qualified to act 
survived, Mr. Henry Anderson. This faithful steward continued to 
ingather monies due to the trust, and, at his death, on 7th May, 1912, 
his trustees found that he held Deposit Receipts totalling in value 
19s. and also the property previously described for behoof of the long 
defunct congregation of Mr. Brown. 

In these circumstances, a multiplepoinding was raised to determine 
who was beneficially entitled to these assets, and claims were lodged by 
(i) The United Original Secession Synod ; (2) The South Clerk Street 
Congregation ; (3) The Lauriston Street Congregation ; (4) The Crown, 
who argued that the Trust had failed, and the money should fall to them 
as uliimus haeres. 

• 

On 24th June, 1913, the Lord Ordinary (Cullen), after considering the 
relation of the various congregations to that of Mr. Brown, pronounced 
an interlocutor in favour of the Crown, holding that the trust purpose had 
been fulfilled. He stated in reference to the other claimants : — 

“If one considers how real and vital such differences in belief 
or opinion as marked Mr. Brown’s isolated congregation are to the 
persons who share them, it seems to me manifest that now to devote 
the funds raised by that congregation for their support to the 
benefit of those from whom they differed, and by whom they were 
ostracised, would be doing signal violence to the intention of the 
makers of the Trust.’’ 

South Clerk Street congregation reclaimed, and the case was again 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS • 


289 


heard for three days before the First Division of the Court of Session. 
On 15th July, 1914, the opinion of the Court was delivered by Lord 
Sherrington who stated that neither the United Original Secession Synod, 
South Clerk Street Congregation or Lauriston Street Congregation could 
identify themselves with the congregation which was the beneficial owner 
of the trust property forming the fund in medio. It appeared to the Court, 
however, that the Victoria Terrace United Original Secession Congrega- 
tion, which it will be recalled, sprang from Mr. Brown’s congregation, 
should be given an opportunity of lodging a claim. They accordingly 
repelled the claim of the Crown and remitted the case back to the Lord 
Ordinary, 

The action was later settled by a Joint Minute which sustained the 
Victoria Terrace Congregation’s claim, and repelled those of the remaining 
claimants to the action ; but all parties were found entitled to their 
expenses out of the fund in medio. It may be stated that Victoria Terrace 
Church dealt generously with the others, and the South Clerk Street 
Congregation was left in possession of the church building until its 
dissolution. 


XI 

CONCLUSION. 

In concluding this account of the last Anti-Burghers many features 
present themselves to us concerning them — not all confined either to the 
debit or credit side of their account. 

On the debit side it must be agreed that they were contentious to a 
degree and very ready to perceive the mote in the eye of their brothers. 
They also exhibited a common symptom of small bodies — ecclesiastical 
or political — in their many splits or secessions. It has occurred to me on 
hearing of the dissensions and divisions that perhaps too many of the 
members for the peace of the Church had some little legal training which 
facilitated their framing Church Court papers. 

On the credit side, however, must ba entered their sincerity of purpose 
and loyalty to ideals and testimonies in a day when these things were 
already losing their popular appeal. The personal financial sacrifices of the 
members I know to have been very considerable, and this fact is more 
obvious when one thinks of groups of some thirty persons maintaining 
a place of worship with the incidental expenses involved. It is greatly to 
the credit of those who were their ministers that they cheerfully undertook 
aU their clerical duties in addition to the necessity of earning a living at 
some secular task, the latter taking the form of literary work or historical 


290 


SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY SOCIETY 


research. From their published writings, all the ministers exhibited 
literary abilities proving their scholarship which, had they been prepared 
to abandon' their distinctive principles and accept a more popular religious 
code, might have won them positions of some distinction in a larger body. 
To give some idea of the monetary value of their settlements in the minis- 
try, I may say that Mr. Scott’s stipend in the better days of South Clerk 
Street church was £45, that, at the beginning of this century another 
minister was in receipt of £26 ; and that Mr. Lambie never once received 
his full stipend during all his years at Pitcairngreen. 

Despite this all the ministers, as will have been noted, lived to ripe 
old ages and, it is to be hoped, were kept from worry regarding material 
goods in their latter years. They certainly inspired deep loyalty and 
affection in the hearts of some of their followers, still living to mourn 
their passing. 

The last Anti-Burghers conserved in their small groups many of the 
features of churches of a by-gone era. I have spoken of the continuance 
of reading “The Line” at South Clerk Street; it may be added that 
Mr. Scott wore till the end an old-fashioned ministerial white tie in 
the pulpit. The various renewals of the National Covenants recorded 
were later than those of any other denomination in Scotland. I have 
found on inquiry that Lauriston Street Church, the sole survivor, now 
allows the right of women to vote at congregational meetings, so that 
the old order of a sole right in the male to vote has probably passed 
for good in all Scottish Presbyterian Communions, although the vote was 
confined to men until the end in Mr. Scott’s congregation, where women 
were not even permitted to speak at these gatherings. 

I have referred to the financial sacrifices of the members, but they made 
sacrifices in other senses. Thus John Angus, an elder in Lauriston Street 
and later of South Clerk Street in the eighties of last century, walked to 
and from Kirkliston to Edinburgh, 16 miles in all, every Sabbath ; a 
member of the former congregation from Culross crossed the Forth by 
sailing boat frequently, while a couple in attendance at South Clerk 
Street used to come from Burntisland on Saturday and stay over the 
week-end to ensure their attendance. To-day we may smile at such 
tenacity of purpose ; but have we in our generation replaced this quality 
with anything that is better ? 

There must also be noted the abilities both literary and in the conduct 
of worship of the elders of fifty years ago, whose understanding of their 
Church’s standpoint was the result of research in the writings of the 
Secession fathers and in early church documents in which, I am sure, 
their successors in most denominations to-day are deficient. The facility 
with which members of Session could fill the pulpit in the absence of a 


THE LAST ANTI-BURGHERS 


291 


minister represents another feature of the ofhce-bearers of long ago which 
is inherited by few to-day. 

This present paper has revealed the adaptation of Church procedure 
to many exceptional circumstances, and the resorting to expedients to 
overcome constitutional difficulties which may offend purists in presby- 
terian law. When a body becomes so small as to be technically of doubtful 
legal constitution, the question arises should the end be sacrificed for a 
slavish regard to legal precedent ? The last Anti-Burghers, as shown in 
this paper, on several occasions answered this question in the negative. 

To the last Anti-Burghers of Lauriston Street, Edinburgh, a word of 
friendly encouragement must be directed : they have kept the faith ; 
surely such faithful witness and contending can not have been all in vain. 


XII 

A great many people have assisted me in the preparation of this paper, 
and to them I must present my acknowledgments. In particular the 
following (in alphabetical order) are deserving of thanks for the immense 
trouble taken to search for documents and to answer queries : 

Mr. John McLeod, Session Clerk of Lauriston Street Church, Edinburgh, 
and Mr. Henry M. Baton, Curator of Historical Manuscripts, H.M. 
Register House, Edinburgh. 

The others are : 

Mr. A. W. Dickson, Edinburgh. 

Rev. J. Howe, Original Secession Manse, Dundee. 

The Misses Harley, Edinburgh. 

Rev. W. J. Moffett, B.A., Reformed Presbyterian Manse, Airdrie. 

Miss I. H. Martin, M.A., Edinburgh. 

Mr. Martin, Bridgeton, Almondbank. 

Rev. N. McIntyre, Free Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

Mr. James A. McLeod (last surviving member of South Clerk Street 
Church, Edinburgh). 

The Librarian, Sandeman Library, Perth. 

Mrs. Logie, Huntingtowerfield, Perth. 

The Registrar, Edinburgh University. 

Mr. Young, Elder, Martyr’s Church, Dundee.